Back in 1985, Richard Dean Anderson played the original MacGyver, a resourceful clandestine agent who could save lives with a paperclip, a double A battery and a piece of string. Anderson’s version of the character’s seemingly endless scientific knowledge applied to everyday objects and used in extraordinary situations was fun because he was charming and made science cool. Lucas Till, 2016’s version of “Mac,” may have similar charms but he’s given so little to work with in this predictable show, it’s hard to tell.

In this reboot of the franchise, Till also uses handy office supplies to get out of dangerous situations but for some reason, they are often introduced in caption form. When a paperclip makes an appearance, (it would not be a MacGyver episode without it), the word “paperclip” floats across the screen. When Mac is on a plane trying to stop a rogue member of his team, “landing gear” and other words describing aircraft mechanics appear as a sort of superscript diagram to the action. Recently, the series “Limitless” employed a similar conceit, a postmodern wink and nod to self-awareness. On “MacGyver,” it’s just silly. But not as silly as the dialogue, which is so predictable in spots that you can beat an actor to a punch line.

MacGyver is part of a government team made up of a former CIA agent named Jack Dalton (George Eads) and a hacker called Riley Davis (Tristin Mays). Their leader is Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt), an ex-field agent. Eads’ performance sits uncomfortably between maverick and class clown, as if he’s not sure which way to go. Mays’ use of sarcasm is successful here and there but is entirely unsurprising for her chip-on-the-shoulder character. Holt, with her solid work on “House of Cards,” seems wasted here. MacGyver’s roommate Wilt Bozer (Justin Hires) could have potential as a breakout character but so far is stuck in brief comic relief moments that need a lot more comedy.

In a tech centered 2016, “MacGyver” should have a retro appeal because the show’s core concept celebrates an anti-technology ethos. As Mac says to Riley, “You hack computers, I hack everything else.” Exactly. Except that this Mac’s hacks are fairly dull. In the first episode, there’s the essential paperclip, some aluminum foil/cleaning solution smoke trick and a tarp that becomes a parachute after some quick thinking with a pocket knife. It’s all a little ho hum. The show could learn a few things from the guys on “Myth Busters” who know how to make a wacky experiment entertaining.

Instead, the series tries to combine no tech with visually splashy tech and what made MacGyver cool in the first place gets lost. If in every episode, Riley’s fingers are going to fly over her keyboard revealing layered screens of data to crack a case, Mac’s Mr. Wizard tricks need to stand out. The only way they can do that is to be more creative and demand more from Till. “MacGyver” was never just about the paperclip. It was about the paperclip and the personality of the man using it. This version is a disappointment.

“MacGyver” is on Fridays at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS.

— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.