Several shortcomings of mechanical door checks are overcome using a magnetorheological damper. Because the damper is electrically actuated, it can check in any desired position. The logical decision to activate or release the door check can be made either by passive circuitry based on input signals from switches attached to door handles or under microprocessor control, in which case the decision can take into account a variety of unconventional input factors, including the magnitude of the force applied to the door, the rate of change of the applied force, and the angle of door opening. With the addition of an appropriate proximity sensor, the controllable damper can prevent the door from inadvertently hitting a nearby obstacle. Details of the damper mechanism are described, and several implemented control strategies, both passive and microprocessor based, are discussed.