Every dad is not Heathcliff Huxtable. Sometimes your dad needs to be Philip Banks.
In an age of television where the successful black male was the rule and not the exception, James Avery's interpretation might have come across as a bully, as mean, and maybe even a little brash. But then he was supposed to be a father...not a friend. And sometimes your father can't just love you, but has to lay down the law, hold you in check and get you ready for the world outside the four walls you were raised in. Yes, we all thought Carlton was a joke, but Carlton more than held his own when the chips were down.
James Avery was more than just Philip Banks. With a career that spanned more than thirty years, he was everything, appearing on classic shows like the Jeffersons, through the mid nighties on shows like L.A. Law, and up to a character in the Star Trek Universe in the 2000s. Yes, we remember him as Uncle Phil, because every great actor has a signature role, but that's like saying James Earl Jones was only ever Darth Vader's voice.
Good night Uncle Phil.